Da Ivo is an institution in many eyes. Opening in 1976 it is an elegant, old school setting frequented by the rich and famous, like George Clooney, Elton John, Naomi Campbell, Tom Cruise, and Barbra Streisand to name a few. Its location allows clients to arrive by water taxi or gondola rather than walking there. The small tables are fairly close and covered with salmon covered clothes with the name prominently printed in the middle, and the napkins are the same. Tables are set with little birds or cats that turned out to be the salt shakers. Photos, wine bottles and other memorabilia cover the walls which have stained glass partitions between diners and the street and the kitchen. The wait staff all spoke great English and were very helpful and friendly, but plenty of Italian was being spoken by other guests. They offer a huge menu but where to order is off the small chalkboard of daily specials that is brought to the table on a swivel pedestal.
While we considered our choices the server brought a plate of tomato bread to snack on. The fresh, tasty tomato chunks were doused with olive oil and herbs. It was great.
After ordering the bread basket arrived and it was filled with crisps, red pepper rolls, white bread and olive rolls. The thin crackers were tender and quite crisp while all the other breads were nicely soft and fresh. Everything I tried was good.
Risotto scampi e castraure was a risotto made with small shrimp and red onion and treviso. It was wonderfully runny with rice done a perfect al dente. It had a mild flavor but a terrific texture. It was fun to eat and a generous portion.
The Paccheri con grancevola was a variety of spaghetti with a spider crab sauce. It was a lovely fresh pasta crowned with a sprig of parsley and filled with moist shreds of local spider crab meat. Bits of tomato finished out the mix and it was a good balance of ingredients and flavors that blended well. It was strongly flavored.
F. San Pietro con castraure was a John Dory fish fillet in an artichoke sauce with a small side salad. Parts of the fish were fairly thin and thus a little drier but the thicker parts were splendid. The sauce was mildly flavored but the artichoke flavor actually stood out. They were nicely soft and exceptional. The side greens were undressed and mostly seemed a garnish rather than something to be eaten.
Moeche fritte was a serving of the local small soft shell crabs that were fried and served with lemon. They also had the same undressed side salad. The 6 little crabs were nicely crisp but a tad greasy. Their interior was perfectly soft and the claws fried to a crackly crisp. They were well seasoned and tasted great with just a drop of lemon. It was a tasty plate of food.
We didn’t order dessert but it was Carnival season and so they brought a plate of Carnival frittelle, which consisted of fried donuts filled with either zabaglione or vanilla cream and Chiacchere, which are fried dough strips covered with powdered sugar. All were tasty and the fillings fairly different in the sweet sugar coated donuts. A nice ending to a good meal.